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Fitzpatrick shines as Europe aim to increase Ryder Cup lead

Europe's Northern Irish golfer, Rory McIlroy (L) celebrates with Europe's English golfer, Matt Fitzpatrick after sinking a putt on the 10th green during his four-ball match on the first day of play in the 44th Ryder Cup at the Marco Simone Golf and Country Club in Rome on September 29, 2023. (Photo by Paul ELLIS / AFP)

Matt Fitzpatrick starred on Friday as Europe reached the halfway point of the afternoon’s Ryder Cup fourball session gunning to increase their 4-0 lead on the USA.

Englishman Fitzpatrick was alongside Rory McIlroy six up after nine holes of their match with Collin Morikawa and Xander Schauffele.

That lead has been established thanks to the red-hot putter of Fitzpatrick, who was shot four birdies and an eagle on the front nine of the Marco Simone course in Rome.

Four-time major winner McIlroy had helped secure Europe’s first ever clean sweep of a Ryder Cup morning session in a set of dominant displays in the foursomes.

Europe captain Donald had opted to switch the usual schedule and open with the alternate shot foursomes instead of fourballs in the hope of a fast start.

And his team delivered on that strategy in style, putting on the sort of performance that delighted the massed ranks of fans and left the USA a mountain to climb in their bid to win on European soil for the first time since 1993.

However McIlroy and Fitzpatrick’s was the only match being led by Europe as they crossed the halfway point, with USA pair Max Homa and Wyndham Clark two holes up on Robert MacIntyre and Justin Rose after nine holes.

Europe’s Viktor Hovland and Tyrrell Hatton were tied with strong matchplay pair Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth after 11 holes.

Thomas and Spieth claimed four points from six matches as a pairing at the two previous Ryder Cups, and won all four of their matches together at the Presidents Cup last year.

Jon Rahm and Nicolai Hojgaard were also all square with world number one Scottie Scheffler and Brooks Koepka, the only golfer from the Saudi Arabia-backed, breakaway LIV Golf tour to play at this week’s event.

Europe are aiming to regain the trophy after suffering a record-breaking 19-9 thrashing by the Americans at Whistling Straits two years ago.

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